Monday, September 05, 2005

An Honest Assessment

One of my business values is honesty. I suppose this is a common value, and your eyes glaze over when you hear it. But I think it deserves some reflection.

In the recent September 2005 MacWorld magazine, on pages 17-18, there is an article about software piracy. Many software companies are coming up with various registration schemes to deal with the problem. The outcome from all this is that an undue burden is placed on the individual who purchases the software, not so much on the pirate -- though it slows down the occasional pirate.

If you think about it, the money spent in inconvenience for legitimate purchasers, the cost in time lag for software companies, and the cost to produce protection schemes has to add up. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Let's say it costs a total of a billion dollars a year in actual costs and time spent. Now add in the amounts lost due to piracy, and I suspect that this total could rise to almost two billion dollars in lost revenue.

But when you consider other things like employee theft, outright stealing, security costs (systems, locks, and employed guards), mismanagement, and a host of other issues, we are talking about multibillion dollars in money spent or lost due to dishonesty.

In our own lives this is no different. We spend multibillions on home security, car security, insurance, locking devices, keys, etc. We do this without even thinking much about it. In fact, we consider people foolish who don't secure their things or themselves from possible theft, swindling, or outright violence.

When you think about it, we are probably spending trillions on security from dishonesty alone. I don't really know, it is just a guess. In fact, we assume people will be dishonest to the point that we really don't even think about it. But it is worth thinking about.

What could we do with all that money if we didn't have to spend it on minimizing the effects of dishonesty?

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